How to choose the right plumber installer or plumbing company?

appointingplumberWhen something goes terribly wrong during a building contract, the problem is most likely the choice you made when you hired an installer.

If you are planning to hire a plumber or a subcontractor, you need to ask the right questions. This checklist will provide you with all the questions and information you need to make an informed decision when appointing a plumber.

Consumers

1. Are you employing a qualified plumber or registered plumbing company?

A plumber must be qualified in order to carry out plumbing work, or a plumbing company must employ a qualified Plumber. In addition a plumber must be registered with the Plumbing Industries Registration Board (PIRB) to issue a Certificate of Compliance (COC).

Refer to the links below for industry registration bodies or associations

2. Is the installer registered with the Plumbing Industries Registration board (PIRB) as well as the company with Institute of Plumbing a voluntary association?

For plumbing companies to be members of the institute of Plumbing SA they are required to be qualified or employ qualified plumbers which gives consumers recourse. If a plumber is registered with the PIRB there work is inspected by the PIRB inspectorate and non-compliant work must be corrected or installers are deregistered.

3. Does the Plumbing Company have insurance?

Businesses that are serious about what they do will have insurance for possible incidents. Insurance cover should include, public liability, product liability, defective workmanship, vehicle and tools. This way, the consumer bears no responsibility for, and is in no way impacted by, the consequences of these incidents and subsequent consequences like delays and costs.

4. Is the Plumbing Company registered with Companies & Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)?

All installers, whether operating through a Sole Proprietor, Close Corporation, or Private Company, should be registered with CIPC. In addition, make sure that you have your plumbing business residential addresses as well as their contact details.

5. How long has the company been operating for?

This will give you an indication of the company’s stability.

6. Is the company currently financially stable?

It does not matter how skilled a plumber may be, if the company is experiencing financial difficulties, the company will likely experience trouble managing the project. This often results in delays, cutting costs, and in some cases, plumbers absconding.

7. Does the company have references?

Contacting references for feedback on their experience of the company is recommended. Ask the company for information on the projects they are currently busy with. Visit the project site and speak to the company’s clients.

8. Did you get referrals from friends and family?

The best form of marketing is word of mouth, so if someone you know recommends a plumber, they would have had a good experience with them

9. Has the company’s management team participated in business training?

Most small companies or installers are tradesman with very little or no business experience. Depending on the size of your project, the more business training and experience the more likely your project will run smoothly.

10. Have you compiled a shortlist of plumbers and obtained at least three quotes before making your decision?

Ensure you have given all three plumbers the same information when asking them for quotes. This way, quotes can be accurately compared. Avoid ‘lump sum’ quotes – having a quote breakdown of the various individual items gives you a better basis for comparison.

11. Do you have a Plumbing contract?

If you are going to appoint a plumber, ensure that you have a contract that will protect not only the plumber but you as a consumer as well. This will benefit you when managing the project especially if anything goes wrong.

Contractors

1. Do not immediately accept the lowest tender

Make sure that you ask at least two contractors to quote on the work you want done. Compare the tenders to ensure that both contractors have priced all items and then evaluate the tender. Compare all prices against each other to evaluate why one tender is cheaper than the other.

2. Do not sign any documentation prior to formally awarding the tender

Do not sign any documentation until you are ready to award the contract.

3. Request specified tenders

Request the contractor to specify in his tender, in detail, what materials are to be used and where. This is to avoid disputes later on by preventing either party from taking unilateral decisions.
Contractors will price some items provisionally. This is generally because they are unsure of the quantities involved or to allow you to choose some other products. Make sure that tenders allow for the same provisional quantities and products.

4. Do not sign a biased contract

The Institute of Plumbing sells standard plumbing contracts which protect both parties.
If a plumber provides his own contract you can be reasonably sure that the wording is biased in his favour.

5. Read the contract

It is amazing how many people sign contracts without reading them and being aware of their obligations.

6. Do not appoint a contractor without checking his references

Ask for references and check them. Do not do this only by phone, go and see work which was previously carried out. Check whether the quality suits you and find out how the contractor treated his clients before signing.

7. Do not pay deposits without security

It is common for contractors to request large deposits up front. One should be wary of such requests and make certain that the contractor provides security against absconding with the money.

8. Do not pay whenever the contractor requests

Payments should be scheduled in the contract. Beware of making payments outside of that schedule.
A record of all payments including deposits, made at any time should be kept and it is advisable to get the contractor to sign for a receipt of each payment.

9. Keep records

A full record should be kept of date and time of all decisions reached between yourself and the contractor.
It is normal for decisions to be taken during the contract to change original specifications.
Before the contractor implements any changes, make sure he has given a price (the additional cost or the saving) for the change, and be sure that you keep a tally of all additional costs.
You will be amazed at how quickly these extras can mount up in value and may exceed your ability to pay.

10. Do not negotiate “in good faith” without documentation

This refers back to the previous point. All decisions should be in writing and priced and accepted by you before the contractor carries them out.

11. Do not accept poor workmanship

If you are unhappy with the quality of any portion of the work, insist that it is rectified immediately and not left for the plasterer or the painter or somebody else.

Plumbers – Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB), www.pirb.co.za
Plumbing: Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) consumer website, www.iopsa.org.za
Plumbing: Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) Plumbers website, www.iopsa.org